Sunday, August 31, 2014
The Cycle of Desire
8:52 pm est
Most religions tout the promise of a heaven. It is the reward of the faithful, after they die, for
their life of faith. And the faithful believe this heaven is a desirable place, and that they, the faithful, desire it.
But is it a place? After all, no matter where you are, happiness is really
a state of mind. Granted, some places are better than others, but unless your mind is happy, the place you're in
really doesn't matter. A person can be miserable in what, to others, would be paradise.
course, paradise can be hell. Consider the parable of the man who loved to fish: A man loved to fish, more than
anything else. He died and went to what seemed to be heaven, a marvelous resort, with numerous staff to attend him,
where everyday he could fish. He did. And every day he caught a big fish, which he brought back to the resort to be
prepared for his supper. And this went on. But eventually the man who loved to fish grew tired of always catching
the big fish, and questioned his host. His host smiled, and asked him what made him think he had actually gone to heaven.
But the same question can be asked of any heaven which consists of ostensible wish
fulfillment: Do you really want all your wishes granted? After all, the granting of wishes, particularly material
wishes, is really not the point. The point of getting what you want is what getting what you want is supposed to provide,
which is pleasure, and happiness. But pleasure and happiness are states of mind, and can be gotten directly, without
the intervention of material desires, (as long as reasonable necessities are taken care of.) And indeed, the granting
of material desires is irrelevant, because it is merely the conditioning of the mind which causes the mind to respond with
happiness and pleasure at the granting of its desires.
But the mind's pleasure
at the granting of desire is transitory. The mind soon returns to the (less happy) state it was in before the desire
was fulfilled. And so it must manufacture a new desire, which it then seeks to fulfill so that it can once again experience
the glow of pleasure that it experiences in its fulfillment. This is the cycle of desire which the devotees of Buddhism
are instructed to extinguish. (The cycle of desire is not always obvious. There are people who are happy being
miserable. For them the cycle of the formation and frustration of their desires makes them happy.)
it is really not the granting of desire which the point. It is the pleasure, the happiness, of the mind directly which
is the point. And this is the goal of certain forms of meditation, to train the mind to directly experience pleasure
But this is arduous. These forms of meditation can demand hours of practice
every day. The mind resists perpetual happiness. The experience of pleasure and happiness is, in its way, stressful,
and the mind wearies of it, returning to its more normal state.
So what of the various heavens
of perpetual bliss? Well, if people truly desired it, would they not seek theirs, their bliss, out in this life, like
those who practice meditation, instead of occupying themselves with the cares and worries of this world? After all,
it is more state of mind than place. And how better to show you are ready for such a state of mind, such a state of soul,
after death than training yourself for it in this life? Yet, people do not do this, instead clinging to the cycle of
desire and its fulfillment.
Is this then, people's true desire? Or are
people merely uninformed, poorly educated by those who themselves are misinformed, in getting what they truly want?
Consider Jannah, the Islamic heavens, various (high) degrees of wish fulfillment for the faithful. Or the Christian
heavens, qualities of perpetual bliss which the faithful, who can achieve these states of closeness to God, (as have many
of their saints,) at least temporarily in this life, show no signs of actually doing.
perhaps, the cycle of desire and its fulfillment is their desire, and this world, then, their heaven.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
9:38 pm est
to think of God only in positives. Indeed, we tend to think of God as positively perfect. This naturally reinforces our own
good feelings about ourselves, since we are also God. We each believe this, that we are God, on the most primitive unconscious
level. And it is true. But when we view God in only positive superlatives, we imagine a distorted view of God.
And we flatter our inmost self, and present our conscious self with a distorted view of that self.
is more difficult to imagine the negative aspects of God, (who is all things,) since these must, on some level of unconsciousness,
be understood as negative aspects of our self. Thus, to admit that God is also responsible for the evil in the world,
as a being responsible for all things, we must admit that we ourselves, being God, are also responsible for this evil.
Externalizing this responsibility, even to creating instead an alternative, external personage, a devil, and making it
responsible for all evil, is one way out of our taking this personal responsibility. When we deny that God is responsible
for the evil in the world, we are absolving our own unconscious self. Yet this evil is part of the world's perfection.
This also works the other way. It may be easy for us to admit to our human failings, but difficult to
admit that God has these same failings. That is because, on some level of the unconscious, we regard human failings
as mere failings of appearance, or of circumstance, and not the essential failings that they are. Unconsciously,
at the deepest level, since we are each God, we regard ourselves as infallible, and perfect. Thus, it is always
a source of dissonance when our perfect plans, which after all always originate from, or always seem to originate from, or
at the least always gain the approval , from our 'perfect' unconscious selves, go awry. Fallible
appearance conflicts with perfect essence.
This all arises from our imperfect understanding of perfect. We
tend to understand perfect as perfect in an appearance, that is, in the limited aspects which we can appreciate, rather in
the complete and total essence which is truly required for something to be truly perfect. Thus, what is truly perfect may
have the appearance of imperfection in our limited perspective. That is we would judge what is truly perfect to be imperfect.
And conversely, we would judge what had the appearance of perfection to our limited perspective, yet which was truly imperfect,
as perfect. We would judge the perfect as imperfect, and the imperfect as perfect.
that which was truly perfect, such as God, we would imagine as perfect according to our limited imagining, but not according
to the totality of truth. But since a perfect God in essence would appear imperfect to that imagining, so imagining
God as perfect in that limited sense implies the imagining of a God who is not truly perfect. By imagining God to conform
to our image of perfection, we result in a distorted image of a God who is imperfect.
God as perfect. We say God is perfect. But a God conforming to our image of perfection would be imperfect.
course, we cannot admit that this imagined God is imperfect. We imagine our image of God is perfect, despite the fact
that this image no longer corresponds to reality, the truly perfect God. This results in idolatry, the worship of our
imagining, rather than the true God.
Consider too that we, and our world, are imperfect, (even to our imperfect
perceptions,) and therefore what we perceive, and conceive, as perfect is also actually imperfect. But this imperfection
is an aspect of perfection. For consider, if everything had the seeming of perfection, the world would be maddeningly
imperfect indeed. Yet, this is what heaven is often imagined to be, a place terribly imperfect in essence because it
was perfect according to our imperfect judgment.
We imagine a perfect God without negative
aspects. We are thus at a loss to explain the darker aspects the of reality that is God's creation, which
are equally necessary to its perfection. It is the perfect creation of a perfect God, imperfect as it is. And imperfect
as God is.
Of course, none of this means we must not cultivate our garden, in this best of all possible worlds.
Nor does it mean we should not strive to improve it.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Ethics without God
8:45 pm est
who say that God, a God, is necessary for the development of a moral, or ethical individual, the Chinese present numerous
counter examples. The Chinese have developed a cultural ethic without the belief in monotheism.
does not imply the absence of belief systems among the Chinese:
"The largest group of religious
traditions is the Chinese folk religion, which overlaps with Taoism, and describes the worship of the shen, a term
describing local deities, heroes and ancestors and figures from Chinese mythology."...
back to the sage Laozi in 6th century BCE China, and refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious
concepts, of which 'non-action' and spontaneity might be considered the most important. Taoism, Daojiao,
'(The) Way Teach(ing),' venerates no particular deity.
..." According to a survey conducted in 2010,
hundreds of millions of people practice some kind of Chinese folk religions and Taoism; of these 754 million (56.2%) people
practice Chinese ancestral veneration, only 215 million (16%) believing in the existence of ancestral shen." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China
Shen*: (god, diety, spirit, mind) seems to be the term closest to 'God,' though
no compound containing it seems to refer to 'The God' The combined form tianshen, (tian: heaven,
sky, nature, god) yields "sky spirits." There is also zhu: owner, master, God;
zhenzhu: true master, tianzhu: heavenly master. (My guess is that the use of zhu as
representing 'God,' is a relatively recent development, dating to the arrival of Christian missionaries in China in
the 16th century.) The very fact that there is no particular definitive term (one wouldn't refer to one's landlord
as 'God,' ) suggests the concept of a monotheistic God was not as important in Chinese culture as in the West.
That is to say, the concept a monotheistic God was not, and is not, central to Chinese cultural and ethical development.
does seem to be important is the role of exemplar. Role models are important, and numerous: Parents, especially
during the formative years, the rulers, and the wealthy, in the present, and in the past, the aristocracy. Setting examples
for others is a primary aspect of their leadership. They are thus not only expected to preach virtues, but to practice them
in their daily lives.
These role models do not exist in a vacuum, but in the context of a moral culture
going back thousands of years. Deities, heroes, ancestors, especially ones own ancestors, and figures from Chinese
mythology all provide models. But central to the development of this culture was the role of ancient sages, men who
not only taught virtues, handing down descriptions, cases of ethical dealing with various situations, but also
lived according to those virtues.
The most important of these ancient sages was Confucius.
Confucius (Kongzi, or Kong Fuzi,) is thought to have been born in 551 BC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius. He was born to minor aristocracy, in the state of Lu, in northeast China, in what is now Shandong Province. While
he grew up in poverty, he gained reputation through his teachings of the value of proper conduct and righteousness, as well
as for his practice of these virtues. Eventually, these values were recognized as useful by the ruling families of Lu, and
he gained appointments and rose in the affairs of his state. Seeking to strengthen the position of the ruling Duke of
Lu over his hereditary vassals, he made enemies. His successes were incomplete. He went into exile at age 54,
journeying about the neighboring kingdoms, expounding his teachings. He returned to Lu when he was 68, where he spent
his last years teaching to his disciples.
" One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority
of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasized self-cultivation, emulation of
moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules"...." His teachings rarely
rely on reasoned argument and ethical ideals and methods are conveyed more indirectly, through allusion, innuendo, and even
tautology. His teachings require examination and context in order to be understood. " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius
Confucius was, and in many respects still is, the model role model. His importance rather belies his
relatively modest biography. Indeed, he is today an object not only of emulation, but veneration. Allowances,
however, are now made for his place and time, and the importance he placed on ritual and in preserving the feudal order he
was a part of is less emphasized. (Although he may have been radical in this, pushing the idea of rulers who would "succeed
to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage.") However, his ethical teachings are still held
in great respect, and widely practiced. These are based three linked ideas: li doing the proper thing
at the proper time, yi, the idea of reciprocity: "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.
" and doing what is ethically best in a given situation, and ren, consisting of five virtues: seriousness,
generosity, sincerity, diligence and kindness. In order to properly act on these principles, the inner self must be cultivated.
Virtuous and sincere behavior begins with knowledge. His major work, "The Analects," is prefaced with the
Chinese character for 'study.'
An ethical culture, with an idea of goodness, righteousness, and propriety,
existed prior to the development of monotheism. It also exists in contemporary Chinese culture.
of Chinese characters into Roman characters is problematic. Although efforts to represent Chinese characters in
Roman characters go back hundreds of years, it was really only in the 1950's that the modern hanyu pinyin
system was established. It has undergone several modifications since. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin It is especially inexact without the symbols for the tones of the Chinese vowels, which typical fonts do not render.
For example, 'shen' has 4 different pronunciations. In pinyin, it can have any of four different
tonal symbols over the e. Each tonal symbol is a different pronunciation and a different word, with a different
meaning. 'Shen' can represent fourteen or so different characters, each different words, with
meaning ranging from deep and profound to explain, from god and spirit to ooze to reach and to kidney and to other meanings,
depending on the pronunciation and character.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Consequences of the Ordering of Good and God
12:09 am est
You are God.
Since You are God, if you believe in God, but you do not believe He is you, and you believe He is external to you, all morality
either originates in, or is refracted by, this external image of the self.
thus comes from this externalized image of the self. This is a source of confusion, for it is an externalization of that which
is in fact internal. (Even those for whom no coherent image is formed, for instance Atheists, there is a projection
onto the exterior and back again.) Thus, it has the appearance of objectivity, when in fact it is purely subjective.
(Really it is you, doing what you want.)
This is not to imply that moral beliefs are not in
some sense universal, but since they are subjective, they can only be poorly described objectively. Thus when we try
to say why this is good or why that is bad we are often at a loss for words, and when we are not, words often slide aside
from the point we are trying to make. This is because words are blunt instruments when focused on the unconscious operations
of the brain. In particular, they are really only designed to describe that part of the brain which is verbal.
But most of the brain is
non-verbal. Much of morality is non-verbal.
Even for those actions we clearly believe are wrong, such as murder
and theft, we have difficulty describing with words why they are wrong. Some say it is because God, who is good, said
they were evil acts, which should not be done. Others go right to the act itself, and say there is an objective standard
of goodness, that murder and theft are not a part of. Some may say God may be an expression of this goodness, though others
may say He is not necessary.
Often the reason professed is because we wouldn't want them to happen
to us. But this makes morality merely a matter of self-interest, and we are not quite comfortable with that answer, either.
When then we deal with goodness and God, we imagine we are stuck
with choice: Is good good because God says so, or is God good according to some objective standard of goodness?
The order can only arbitrarily
be determined, because they both arise from the unconscious mind. Looking at it from the point of view of the psychological
development of the child, there is seen to be a stage of development where they are identical: Good is God and God is
Good, (at least for monotheists,) and the question of precedence arises only later as the concepts become separate in
the developing child's mind.
It seems that at this stage belief could go either way. But what is this process? It
is a decision in the child's mind, that one is defined in terms of the other. Usually, for this is what is usually
taught, and indeed what is easier to teach, good is defined in terms of God. The question of precedence is a decision
in the conscious mind of the child, which is later rendered unconscious, that is, 'forgotten' in the adult.
Since this order of precedence is unconscious, this is assumed to be natural.
the equality of 'God equals good' is unstable in the verbal mind, (is, in English anyway, implying something like
"is contained in the set of all _____ things" as in "The ball is (contained in the set of all) round (things.)")
the mind, as it becomes more verbally sophisticated, settles on one order or the other. This releases the tension implied
with conceptual equality, since equality implies many more relationships and restrictions than that implied by "is contained
in." This tension is released in what might be called either the right handed "good because God says so," or
the left handed "good the (absolute) standard which God upholds." Good is God, vs God is good. The practical
limitation of 'is' is an expression of this tension, not the cause.
development leads to a less sophisticated sense of moral order than that the child originally had, and this can only be recovered
later in life. This forms a conscious model for the mystic, and the recovery of the unity of the God Consciousness requires
a backward movement along the path of development in all dimensions, the psychic un-separation and dis-ordering of the separations
and orderings of idea formation that constitute normal development. In the child's mind, only one path
is taken, and the other path must be brought to contemplation to recover the symmetry. In the moral case, the ideas of Good and God are separated and ordered, one above the
other. Indeed, the psychological ordering of these
concepts, and other concepts which were originally degenerate, whichever combinations are chosen, become a barrier to higher
This actual equality becomes apparent because neither
ordering bears close scrutiny, The arbitrary God is nevertheless constrained by requirements of reality. The arbitrary
God, (and He is arbitrary) cannot make arbitrary evil a virtue, because in a very real absolute sense, it is not. It
is incompatible with a stable society. The subservient to good God has options due to 'necessity,' and
can also deal mercy and justice arbitrarily, so is not so constrained as He first appears.
words conveniently describe the result of this release, but not the original state. (Think of it like this: Is good
alive, or is God inanimate? But then, we have the living word, the word made flesh, etc.) In fact, it is only
with difficulty and practice that the idea of the equality of God and good can be maintained in the mind at all, since sensible
descriptions, using words, imply one relationship or the other. If one does not choose one ordering or the other, the mind
tends instead toward a dualism where under some conditions one description applies, while under different conditions the other
Equality is difficult, because the concepts are not identical types
in the mind. Note the conceptual splitting: One part becomes person, the other object. In the original
state these were conflated. That is, to the very young child, inanimate objects were perceived as alive, and persons,
and the differentiation as the child ages parallels and confirms the separation and ordering of the concepts.
This splitting is modeled
on the original noun/verb (object/action) splitting, which comes earlier. In the undeveloped mind these were originally
fused. This is not in the sense of being mixed, but rather being in one higher undifferentiated state which, with more experience,
breaks in two: One, noun, 'above' the other, verb. Indeed, the general process is one of successive symmetry
breaking, as each concept, or category, is broken into sub-categories, as a result of either internal pressure, or external
tension. Verbal development both drives and is driven by this maturing.
described the tension involved in the equality, and the two orderings of the concepts of good and God that result. Since
we are limited to words, let us describe in more detail the different systems of belief, the consequences of each ordering.
On the right, where good is defined by God, we have whatever God does is good, and whatever He says is good, is good.
God is the final arbiter. He thus has license to be completely arbitrary, and virtuous behavior is derived
from that arbitrary system of good and evil that God has established. That is, good and evil, in this ordering, are arbitrary,
and the earthly and heavenly system of reward and punishment are bent to conform to this. Stealing and murder are bad
not because they are inherently bad, or destructive, but only because God says they are. Philosophical discussions of
good and evil are properly discussions of God's motives. Murder and theft may be virtuous, if God, or rather such authority
as represents Him, says so. Thus, if God says: "Kill this one," or "Take from that one," is good, then
the authoritarian individual has not only license, but duty to act.
this with the left hand view, that there is some absolute standard of good and evil, "out there," to which God,
by definition of being good, conforms. Stealing and murder are inherently bad, and the rewards and punishments of heaven
and earth reflect this. They are in a sense automatic. God is law giver, but not law maker. Thus, God would not
say "Kill this one," or "Take from that one," except out of necessity, for these acts are intrinsically
evil. They cannot be made virtuous, but only necessary. One cannot act out of retribution, but only out of prevention
of further depredation.
In their social and psychological consequences of these
two orderings are not equivalent.
One social consequence of the authoritarian ordering
is seen in the death penalty. Those states where the people see good as defined by God tend to see execution as virtuous,
and thus tend to do it more frequently, and with greater enthusiasm than states where there is a greater tendency to see good
as defining God, where killing, even of the evil, is always seen as an evil. We also see a greater tendency to severity
of punishment of law in authoritarian states. There is also a greater acceptance of the order of things.
remember, these are all justified by projections of the self, which is God. The authoritarian God is thus, in a sense,
more liberating, since He makes a virtue of the self's expressions of, (that is, His expressions of,) negative emotions,
where the authoritative God, even under the 'proper' circumstances, only grudgingly grants permission, to the self,
for these to be acted upon. The authoritative individual is thus more restrained, even to the point of repression of
these negative emotions themselves, since any action on them tends more to be frustrated.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Does Humanity Have a Future?
10:00 pm est
Does humanity have a future? This in the sense of the future being other than
more of the past.
Over at The Foundational Questions Institute (http://www.fQxi.org) they are concluding an essay contest. The subject of the essay is: "How should humanity steer the future?"
seem to assume the answer to an even more fundamental question, one which has not yet been settled:
Should humanity steer the future? Or perhaps even more fundamentally: Can humanity steer its
Those who think that humanity cannot steer its future subscribe to one or another version of the
basic idea that humanity is too stupid to manage itself. One version of this is the idea that society is just
too complicated to be governed. And one version of this is that this will always be the case, since society
is made up of complicated individuals, and so will always be even more complicated; too complicated to manage.
this is not necessarily the case. Physics studies things with many interacting parts, whose total behavior can nevertheless
be summed up in a few, relatively simple equations. And many systems with complicated parts are easy to manage.
indeed, this is one of the goals of modern industry, to create things of great complexity which are nevertheless 'easy
to use,' easy to control.
Also, the past shows that societies can, indeed be marshaled to accomplish
great things outside of themselves. Unfortunately, most often these great accomplishments have been victories
in conflicts- wars against other societies, whose own great accomplishments were to marshal their resources to war.
Of course, these are just individual societies, and not the whole globe of societies, which is clearly a bigger
ball of wax, and one whose behavior is almost certainly not merely the sum of its parts. So it won't be easy.
there are many of those who believe mankind should not steer its future. Often, these 'put their faith
in God.' God will provide mankind, those 'chosen' who survive, anyway, a paradise in the
future. This assumes first that God exists, and second, that God does not expect much from humanity. Did God make mankind
too stupid to manage his society, or his world? Since man is also presumed to be His highest creation, this would seem
to be a terrible disappointment to God. One might believe instead that it was a hope of God that mankind could indeed
manage his society. In particular, God must hope mankind can manage his appetite and the resources of the planet:
That man can indeed be the 'good steward.' Or will God reward those who helped screw up this planet with their
unrestrained appetite, giving them a new, virgin one to screw up? Will He? So a third assumption is that
God's grace will descend on the sinner, and one who by the way refuses to repent, and lift him up to paradise, to be steward
(or wined and dined?) where before he had failed.
Perhaps managing this world is humanity's
test, to see if it deserves a new planet. And what a perfect test it would be. The results of the test would be
the reward. If mankind succeeded, and managed to preserve the planet, to indeed create a paradise on earth, that
is what he would get. If, on the other hand, he failed, and created a hell on earth, then that is what
he would get. And whatever world in between, depending on his grade. A so-so world would always be possible.
Maybe likely. So consider, what other test should there be, to determine just what kind of 'New Earth' humanity
In fact, an un-steered humanity's path is predictable. Indeed, its social evolution has
been recently predicted, as can its economic path. Both paths are downhill: They are, in fact, the paths of maximum
entropy, a decline to states where nothing useful can be extracted. For humanity, this means a state where nothing useful
can be done, including perhaps even maintaining itself.
Now it is uncertain that even with the application
of intellect, any system can escape the bounds of entropy. But it is certain, without the application and mind and hand,
entropy will triumph, and the world will evolve into the worst of all possible worlds.
Those who promote the idea
of stupid humanity nevertheless see themselves as clever. They see themselves climbing to the top of the dung heap humanity
will become. Indeed, it is a dung heap they would help to create, with their unrestrained appetite, and its concomitant
Mankind must learn to put more into the earth than it takes out. The real problem
is that each individual must learn to do so. And as both population and inequality increase, this will become
more difficult. As population increases, the total burden of humanity on the earth will increase. As inequality
increases, the number of desperately poor, who see no future beyond today, who are prepared to sacrifice that tomorrow for
today, will increase. And at the other end, there are those who live large, who casually squander earth's limited
resources to meet their own perverse needs. And all in between, are those who take more than they give, expecting there
will always be more. Because in their experience, there always has been more. But this is increasingly no
longer the case. More and more, resources are depleted, and insufficient effort is taken to conserve, to maintain and
Can? Should? The fact is, humanity is steering its future. It cannot
help but do it, even if it is to make the choice to pretend to avoid all responsibility for its choices. But humanity
cannot avoid this responsibility. It is responsible. But will it acknowledge this responsibility, or will it deny
it, and so be compelled to take responsibility for its failure.
For that is who You are.
Whether or not You choose to believe that You are God,
the One God, that of course is your divine prerogative.
As for the reality, You are God, whether You want to be or not. So Welcome!
Here You will find some
answers to some questions You may have about Your divine nature, and the nature of Your creation.
If you are
satisfied with your
life, your faith,your
God, you are
But of course,
who am I to
is only God.
God is known by
Faith and belief comprise a very important part of our lives. A person's beliefs in
many ways define who they are -- how they see themselves, what they want out of life, and more.
On this web site
I'll offer a personal account of my own beliefs. I'll describe how my beliefs have changed my life in profound and
exciting ways, and how I think they might change the lives of others.
I'll also be sure to provide links to
my favorite sites as well as information about organizations that help strengthen or support my beliefs., or provide interesting
Thanks for visiting. Have a good day!
You are at: